Wallaby Walks Kokoda with South Sea Horizons
What was the most common response from people when you told them you were undertaking the Kokoda Trek?
Initial shock and surprise quickly followed by enthusiasm and excitement. I think because the track holds such cultural significance to us as proud Australians it invokes that emotional response from people.
How did that make you feel?
You can’t help but feel the energy while also managing the nervous energy that comes with the knowledge you are about to something that will test you physically and mentally.
What was the catalyst for undertaking this adventure?
Former Waratah Al Manning runs a locally sourced and lead PNG Tourism business called South Sea Horizons, and he just mentioned that it would be awesome to get me up on the Kokoda Track at some point. That started the conversation. It quickly became apparent to me that it was something that if I didn’t seize the opportunity today then who knows when the chance would arrive again to do it with South Sea Horizons.
What did you think would be the hardest thing before you went? And in fact, what was the hardest thing?
Prior to starting I was under no illusions whatsoever how difficult and challenging all aspects were going to be, but I wasn’t looking forward to putting blistered feet back into hiking boots in the mornings! Fortunately, we had pretty good weather conditions, the group stayed healthy throughout and because we made pretty good time each day that gave us some extra rest and recovery at the villages where we made camp for the night. And my feet held up relatively well!
What was the scariest thing about the trek?
What motivated me to concentrate while fatigued on the descents was that I didn’t want to make a misstep, injure myself and then not be able to continue and complete the full journey that those brave young Australians and Japanese experienced.
Apart from completing the challenge, on reflection what is your favourite memory of the trip?
What sticks with me is how vibrant the rainforest is up there. All these incredible colours and shades that is just raw nature all around you but then you walk out through the bush into beautifully manicured villages. It’s remarkable.
What do you think you have taken from the trip? Has it changed you or reinforced any thoughts, ideas or beliefs?
I’ve taken away the dual significance the Kokoda plays for not only Australian’s but particularly for Papua New Guineans as well. Being led by guides and porters from the villages we travelled through gave our group a deep appreciation for the PNG people. Also, you can’t help but be taken by how tough these guys are when you are climbing as hard as you can up a muddy hill and one of the porters literally jogs past you wearing a pair of thongs. Unbelievable.
Did you read any great books, guides or articles, or get any great advice before this trek that you think would be useful for something thinking of undertaking the trek?
I had read Fitzy’s ‘Kokoda’, but don’t tell him that! Gary McMahon, who was part of our trek group has a work colleague who suggested taking a choccy bar to have as a reward once you are all washed and in your tent for the night. As a big snack-man I took this onboard. Apart from that; good quality socks!
Apart from hugging your wife and kids, what was the first thing you did on returning home / what did you miss most?
They were waiting for me at the airport gate and went off! I missed them the most.
What surprised you most about the trek?
How the track is just the local highway for the villages along the track. It’s not this daunting physically challenge it’s just how to get from A to B.
What is your advice for anyone who is keen to give it a try?
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